Bola Opaleke

Bola Opaleke’s The Morgue in my Tears is on the longlist for the CBC Poetry Prize 2021 announced on November 11, 2021.

The CBC Literary Prize is a Canadian literary award, granted annually in three categories: short stories, poetry, and creative non-fiction. The Award is directed towards Anglophone writers. Some of the previous winners of the prize have been Michael Fraser, Sandra Murdock, and Alix Hawley.

The road to the winners for 2021 kicked off when the longlist was revealed with 31 writers featuring. The jury is comprised of Louise Bernice Halfe, Canisia Lubrin and Steven Heighton. From almost 3,000 English-language submissions, the Nigerian-Canadian Bola Opaleke’s The Morgue in my Tears made the cut.

Bola Opaleke is the author of Skeleton of a Ruined Song, which won the 2020 Thomas Morton Memorial Prize for poetry. A few of his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as Prairie Fire, Frontier Poetry, Rattle, the Nottingham Review, the Puritan, Literary Review of Canada, Sierra Nevada Review, the Indianapolis Review and Canadian Literature. He holds a degree in city planning and lives in Winnipeg. He is currently the arts community director with Winnipeg Arts Council’s board of directors.

Why he wrote The Morgue in my Tears Opaleke said:

“Some wounds never heal, they hide. I started writing this poem a few years ago. Six times I have completed it — or seemed to have — and all six times I ended up tossing it. But during the pandemic, it became, as Jericho Brown said, ‘a gesture toward home’. I wrote this poem to avenge myself against the guilt swallowing me up and against the forgiveness stuck in my throat.”

The shortlist will be revealed on November 18, and the winner will be announced on November 24, 2021. In addition to a $6,000 cash prize, the grand prize winner will receive a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, with their work published on the CBC Books website.

The Canada Council for the Arts will award $1,000 to four finalists, and their work will be published on CBC Books.